Bears Hand Bisons First Conference Loss of Season
MACON, Ga. – The Mercer Bears were able to do something on Friday night that four other teams were unable to accomplish against the Lipscomb Lady Bisons thus far in 2010.
Mercer (20-20, 2-4 A-Sun) was first to put a blemish on the undefeated Lady Bisons (32-8, 9-1 A-Sun) conference record, taking game two of Friday night's doubleheader 3-1. The Bears lost game one, 2-1 in a feature battle between two of the Atlantic Sun's premier pitchers.
"This team has kind of risen up out of the ashes," head coach Mike Raynor said. "We have been on the verge of turning things around for a while now and beating a team like this in conference is big for us."
Bear's junior pitcher Jenni Holtz and Bisons' sophomore pitcher Whitney Kiihnl are considered two of the most dominant hurlers in the A-Sun and Friday night's match-up proved just why. The two squared off in game one and while Kiihnl secured the win, Holtz was able to showcase her talent retiring 11 batters over seven complete innings of work.
In doing so, she also added another wrinkle to her already illustrious career in Macon. In Holtz's two appearances on Friday, the junior from Tracy, Calif. surpassed the 700-strikeout plateau, becoming just the second Mercer pitcher in history to accomplish that feat.
Holtz moved to 12-12 on the year giving up the two runs on nine hits and Kiihnl improved her record to 21-2 giving up one run on four hits.
Bear's senior leftfielder Holly Oglesbee wasted no time making the game one intriguing to the fine crowd assembled at Sikes Field for Alumni Weekend, as she nailed a leadoff homerun in the bottom of the first. Holtz would hold the 1-0 lead going into the fifth inning dodging several close Lipscomb scoring chances.
The Bisons, however were able to score the tying run in the fifth after loading the bases and shortstop Courtney Billington beat out a controversial RBI single at first. The winning run cleared the bases with two out in the top of the seventh when first baseman Kellie Sirus hit her eighth homerun of the year.
In game two the Bears came out and fell behind early in the second inning when starting pitcher Kari Chambers walked the leadoff batter in Kellie Sirus. Sirus would score two batters later when Christen Campbell laced a single through the right side of the infield.
Thanks to a stellar outing by Chambers, who went four and two-thirds innings for her sixth win of the season, it would be the only run Lipscomb could generate in the game. Chambers gave up five hits and struck out four.
Holtz saw another relief opportunity come her way when she took over for Chambers and retired the final batter in the fourth. She recorded her second save of the season by striking out three in 2.1 innings of relief work.
The Bears scored two advantageous runs on three Bisons errors in the fourth inning. Junior Emi Sherrill knocked in a run on a fielders choice and sophomore Jenny Goodman laid down a successful bunt scoring sophomore Sara Stukes from third. Goodman went 2-for-5 on the day with two RBI.
"Hopefully, this can be the spark we were looking for," Raynor said. "I think we are beginning to believe in each other and we needed a win like this to get over the top. Hopefully this win can keep us going into the tournament, which is our ultimate goal."
The Bears continue their homestand hosting the Belmont Bruins in a A-Sun Conference doubleheader tomorrow at 2 & 4 p.m. at Sikes Field.